Is How to Get Away with Murder normalizing LGBT relationships?

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Photo: American Broadcasting Company

It is hard to think of How to Get Away with Murder as ‘normalizing’ anything. The show features gruesome deaths, complex relationships and multi-faceted characters walking a tightrope between right and wrong.

Yet its treatment of LGBT characters and, more importantly, their relationships is one of the most distanced from drama and exaggeration on TV.

But, before I get into dangerous territory, if you have not watched episode 3 of season 3 step away from this article right now!

In case I was not clear enough, SPOILERS AHEAD!


Spoiler squirrel

So, Connor (Jack Falahee) and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) broke up! It has already been a couple of episodes since that so it’s time to accept it.

However, this relationship is probably one of the least dramatic ones in the show. The patience and sobriety with which the gay couple dealt with whatever came along – from crime to HIV – stands out, not only in the backdrop of one of the most ‘messy’ series I have ever watched, but throughout television.

The reason: no one is being dramatic, picky, a diva, overly sarcastic or emotional. Viewers are then free to enjoy two logical adults confront completely illogical situations without tearing their feather boas apart.

Just to put this into perspective, think of Modern Family’s Cam and Mitchell. The fact that a show resorts into flamboyant, fabulous divas with all kinds of married life and parenthood crises that LGBT stereotypes would suggest, to get a few laughs, should not be ignored just because it’s a comedy show.

While this comparison may be too ‘apples and oranges’ thinking about the portrayal of those four men, the differences are obvious. Even while taking into account the sex-maniac edge that Connor has sported for much of the show, the contrast of the almost introvert Oliver and the sex mania that dominates the show overall bring the stereotype meter back to HTGAWM’s favour.

Photo: American Broadcasting Company

Of course, let us not forget Annalise (Viola Davis) and Eve (Famke Janssen)! The psychotic, alcoholic, and quite simply crazy law professor has been featured in three relationships in the show, two straight affairs, and a lesbian one. Considering Annalise watched her husband get murdered and helped the perpetrator, and almost helped her boyfriend’s dying wife end her life, I do not think this example needs much explaining.

Eve and Annalise have not had much coverage on the show. In fact, their relationship has impacted the plot much more than it has been in it. Even so, two young women having a love affair which ended after one of the two fell in love with someone else immediately eliminates most of the, mainly older, media narrative around lesbian relationships.

So, for a show that does not leave any one of its characters completely sound, developing one long-term relationship and one enduring love affair with LGBT partners under such effortless and simple lines is a refreshing view and one that could mean a lot.

Now, roll on Thursday!

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